Supplement Your Child's Education

Are you concerned your child isn't getting the education necessary to compete in the global economy or even, perhaps, to carry on the lessons and learning of Western Civilization? If so, you have a number of choices. You could, of course, consider changing schools to a charter school, private school, or even homeschooling. If that's overwhelming for you right now, you can always supplement your child's education. There are a number of ways to do it, with many helpful books and online guides. Our hope is to point you in the right direction below. 

Please keep in mind that there are a variety of options for parents, and often the decision should be made based on a variety of factors including time, money, personality of the child, etc. The key, though, is to take charge of your child's education and not leave his or her future beholden to a well-meaning, but often failing educational system.

Math

American students recently are reported as ranking 25th in the world for math. If you'd like to assess your child's math skills, you can do so for free through SingaporeMath. The site also has a helpful guide for determining material for teaching math at home, which is available by clicking here. Another curriculum company to consider is Saxon for math. You can view their material here (click on the "Request a Catalog" link).

If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of supplementing your child's education on your own, you may want to consider tutoring or a program like Kumon Learning Centers.

For individual math lessons, please consider visiting the Khan Academy online where you can view helpful videos like the following:

Area of a Circle

Finally, please keep in mind, too, that there are many, many other free resources online. For instance, here's a site, dadsworksheets.com, that offers free math worksheets. The site also links to numerous other free resources. 

Reading

Just as with their math scores, American students' reading scores rank quite low compared to other developed countries in the world. So what can you do? First, of course, you may want to determine how well your child is reading currently. A number of online reading assessments exist. Here are a few:   

San Diego Quick Reading Assessment Instructions

Checkpoints for Progress

Reading Skills Assessment Test

The Abecedarian Reading Assessment

We would be remiss if we neglected to mention the need for phonics education for younger children. Here are two helpful books for teaching your young ones: Noah Webster's Reading Handbook and Phonics Pathways.

Once your child is past the learning to read stage, one way of supplementing your child's reading is to recommend good books. Improving reading abilities and building a vocabulary involves reading ever more challenging texts. Additionally, you may want to inquire into the substance of the books your child is reading whether at home or at school. Does a book promote virtuous behavior? Does a book challenge the reader? Does the book enrich the mind? All of these questions (and more) are important to consider as there are good, mediocre, and bad books.

For a wonderful read on virtue and classic stories, please consider "Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination".

To learn more about the Great Books Programs, please consider visiting our Topic Page on the subject:


Great Books
Great Books

 

Cursive Handwriting

More likely than not, if you take a look at your grandparents' old letters, you will find well-written documents composed entirely in flowing cursive. It's just one more example of the subtle downward slide in education. Penmanship seems to be a dying art these days, which is a shame. If you share our appreciation for handwritten letters and cursive penmanship, and believe that it's important for your child to have such a skill, you may have to help your child yourself.

If you're wondering if cursive handwriting matters in our digital age, you may want to consider reading this article. For an interesting article on how cursive handwriting helps develop cognitive skills, click here

For a helpful site that will give you tips on how to start teaching your child (or yourself) cursive handwriting, please consider clicking here.

General Knowledge

Several recent studies indicate that American students aggregate understanding of history, civics, and other areas of general knowledge has declined precipitously in recent decades. Two studies on the subject are the following: E Pluribus Unum-The Bradley Project on America's National Identity and the Fordham Institute's The State of State U.S. History Standards 2011

It's certainly no easy matter to concisely lay out the various topics in history, civics, philosophy, etc. that a well-educated individual living in a free society should know. To that end, we recommend two books on the matter: The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and E.D. Hirsch's Books to Build On: A Grade-by-Grade Resource Guide for Teachers and Parents. Both books do a wonderful job of presenting quality educational material for children at each stage of learning. 

Finance/Economics

Judging by the rapid growth of the national debt and personal bankruptcies in recent years, at least a few Americans are in need of remedial finance education. You'll surely give your son or daughter a leg up in life by helping them understand economics and finances, particularly as they relate to the individual. Teaching finances is a mixed bag of teaching money discipline, the importance of thrift/saving, etc. to your children and often doing that in the real world. 

For online tutorials on various finance and economic topics, we again refer you to the free online Khan Academy. There you will find videos like the following:

If you would like to introduce your older child to economics, there are a few books that you might want to consider starting with: The Law by Bastiat and Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. 

 

More About This Topic...

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Quote Page

Commentary or Blog Post

"At least three companies linked by the Environmental Protection Agency to hazardous waste sites are being paid by the government to clean up their own sites, according to an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity."

"In sum, Superfund is not an effective way to reduce health risks. It reduced the traditional protections that people and companies can expect from legal due process, and it hasn't clearly helped anybody, except lawyers, consultants, and the EPA. Much the same has been shown to be true of many other regulatory programs. ...

Is there another way? Yes. The traditional way of dealing with...

"When one thinks of a Superfund site, the image is of a large landfill, a former mining pit, or an industrial site like Love Canal; places where massive contamination has released into the air, ground, or water over many, many years and where it is not safe to live, animals and benthic organisms may not even exist, and where the full power of the federal government is often needed simply to...

Sapien looks into the 114 toxic waste sites that, according to the EPA, are "not under control" and pose dangers to human health.  However, as Sapien points out, the EPA has been extremely evasive when outsiders (including U.S. Senators) ask for location and specific status of these sites.

What impact does Superfund have on real people? Robert Cox retells the story of how Superfund destroyed his business, a business he worked to build for 20 years.

"'We are facing a wide range of environmental problems, including the severe threats to our well being posed by climate change and water and air pollution,' Greenstone said. 'The findings suggest that less ambitious clean-ups like the erection of fences, posting of warning signs around the sites, and simple containment of toxics would free up resources to address environmental problems that...

This article discusses the problems with Superfund in the wake of reform efforts.

Chart or Graph

"Sites on the NPL are also categorized by types of industrial facilities or activities associated with the contamination, such as manufacturing, waste management, and recycling."

"Eleven companies received the most money in cost-plus contracts from the Environmental Protection Agency from fiscal years 1998 to 2005."

"The Superfund process begins when a potentially hazardous site is reported to EPA, usually by a state environmental agency, but sometimes by local or Tribal governments, individuals, and community groups."

This chart shows the number of sites proposed, deleted, finalized, and completed each fiscal year on the National Priorities List.

This chart shows the amounts of Superfund expenditures on administrative and programmatic costs for fiscal years 1999 through 2003.

The Hazard Ranking System (HRS) [shown above] is a numerically based screening system that evaluates five categories of concerns at each site.

"Figure II-8, from GAO's 2002 report on the Superfund Program, illustrates EPA's Superfund Program expenditures in FY 2002 for everything except expenditures to ORD and OIG."

"The total annual appropriation (including congressional earmarks) to the Superfund Program from 1993 to 2004 is shown in Figure II-7...."

Analysis Report White Paper

Tresch provides an excellent overview of the history of federal environmental law since 1970, the role of Superfund, and an assessment of Superfund.

Through interviews and a survey, this study examines Wisconsin's efforts to reform Superfund. Its background section provides a good introduction to the unintended negative outcomes of Superfund.

"The Clean Water Act and CERCLA should be revised so that liability attaches only if a new site owner leaves the site in worse condition than before. Such a law would encourage additional mining and additional cleanup."

This detailed study of, "the local welfare impacts of Superfund clean-ups of hazardous waste sites", ultimately concludes, "Overall, the preferred estimates suggest that the local benefits of Superfund clean-ups are small and appear to be substantially lower than the $43 million mean cost of Superfund clean-ups."

This article offers a comprehensive assessment of the cost-effectiveness of a selection of Superfund cleanups. The results reveal that many EPA Superfund remediations fail a partial benefit-cost test.

This report provides a critical analysis of Superfund and discusses possible ways to reform it.

Video/Podcast/Media

Lois Gibbs founded The Center for Health, Environment and Justice, an environmental grassroots group. While the video is edited, it gives a fascinating account from a resident affected by the hazardous waste at Love Canal. From a property rights/free market perspective, it's interesting to note that various levels of government took little to no action to uphold the property rights of the...

Primary Document

This report provides a detailed summary of the law authorizing the Superfund program.

"The National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP) defines the organizational structure and procedures for preparing for and responding to discharges of oil and releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, and contaminants in the United States. The NCP was developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to the congressional enactment of The...

This very large report, prepared by the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT), provides mountains of information regarding program expenditures, development of new sites for the National Priority List (NPL), history of the Superfund and NPL, progress, success and failure, cost effectiveness, and other deep analysis information. NACEPT is an independent...

In 1993, the EPA set out to reform Superfund and, in subsequent years, it has instituted 62 reforms. This GAO study assesses the effectiveness EPA reforms and concludes that the majority are not working, and that while progress may have been made, recent trends suggest progress may be eroding.

Books

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